Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) Hands-on: Do we need four cameras?

It actually has five if you’ll count the front, as well

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Before, not counting the front, a smartphone only had one camera. Then, dual sensors became a thing with either zoom, ultra-wide, or monochrome as the secondary sensor. The trend moved faster with triple shooters and it’s not stopping there! Samsung jumped to four with the new Galaxy A9.

The biggest premium midrange phone of Samsung also has the most number of rear cameras on a smartphone. But before we get to them, let’s talk about the Galaxy A9 (2018) like an everyday phone first.

It’s got a gigantic 6.3-inch display

Still a Super AMOLED panel but flat

It’s almost borderless…

At least, it has no notch

It’s got a chin and uses virtual buttons

Everything is on the screen

The power and volume buttons are on the right

They’re quite small for a big phone

There’s a lone button on the left for Bixby

Samsung is really pushing this

The triple-card tray is accessible from the top

A surprising feature for a premium phone

We have the 3.5mm and USB-C ports at the bottom

The audio jack is here to stay

Samsung now has a gradient color scheme

It has its own beauty

Look at its shifting colors

Just don’t put a case or it’ll be useless

The camera holes are unsettling to look at

Maybe there’s another way to stack them?

Just look at them; aren’t they… interesting?

Each has its own purpose

Same-old Samsung design

When Samsung’s high-end Galaxy S lineup shifted to curved Infinity Displays, I kinda missed the flat display of the Galaxy S7. If you dislike having a curved display, you’ll love the fact that the Galaxy A9 (2018) has a simple and flat panel. It’s still Super AMOLED and crisp-looking at 392ppi.

The body of the phone is made from cold metal and smooth glass. There’s nothing about the new Galaxy A9 that feels cheap. It’s just big, so one-handed usage is difficult.

One thing I love about big phones is how they make mobile games more immersive. Thankfully, this phone is powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor that’s paired with 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage. If the storage space isn’t enough, you can also put your files and photos on a microSD card and insert it into the phone. Additionally, the phone has a large 3800mAh battery.

The phone runs smoothly and switches between apps with ease. I have no issues with its gaming performance, but graphics-intensive titles might need to adjust to medium settings to ensure high frame rates.

Android 8.0 Oreo comes out of the box, which is disappointing since Android 9 Pie is already available. Samsung will eventually update this phone with their latest UI, but there’s no exact date for the rollout as of writing.

The four cameras deliver

The main feature of the new Galaxy A9 is its cameras. Samsung pushed it to the limits by putting four rear cameras. There are four different sensors on the back of the phone and they are vertically aligned.

The main one is a 24-megapixel shooter with a f/1.7 aperture and phase-detection autofocus. The added shooters are an 8-megapixel ultra-wide (12mm) camera and a 10-megapixel telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. The remaining camera is simply a 5-megapixel depth sensor for the extra bokeh effects.

Here are samples from the phone’s main, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras:

Obviously, the main camera should be your go-to option for everyday photos. It’s suitable for quick snaps and captures better-looking images. Using the ultra-wide camera will let you take more of the scene, but the lower resolution and smaller aperture sacrifice some of the quality. I don’t really find the telephoto camera to be useful, but if the situation asks for it, it’s always there.

As mentioned earlier, the fourth camera of the Galaxy A9 takes care of bokeh. Check out these portrait samples and notice the extra effect applied to the background.

As for selfies, the phone has another 24-megapixel in front. The selfie camera has all the common features you’d expect including beauty filters, bokeh, and even Samsung’s own AR Emoji.

The Samsung Galaxy A9’s cameras don’t match the Galaxy S9’s or the Galaxy Note 9’s, but the extra camera sensors make the phone more fun to use. The ultra-wide shooter has the potential to be a crowd favorite if only it could shoot better images — especially in the dark.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you want a premium phone that offers something new to the table, the Galaxy A9 will not disappoint. Samsung was able to come up with a midranger that may seem boring at first, but having four cameras makes the difference.

Indeed, the Galaxy A9’s design is not the best it could be. Placing the four sensors inside a long module seems like a weird concept design that actually came true. It does attract unsuspecting crowd though, but I am not sure if it is for the better or worse.

The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) is not a cheap phone either, but it’s not overly expensive compared to previous Samsung midrange releases. It starts at SG$ 728 in Singapore, PhP 32,990 in the Philippines, and INR 36,990 in India.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy A7 hands-on review: Beyond the cameras

Hands-On

Redmi Note 10S: Is this the most ideal smartphone?

Great hardware under a simple, subtle design

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Redmi Note 10S

As the more affordable product line, Redmi continues to bring high-quality smartphones to a more accessible market. They may not come with the most flagship of hardware inside, but they still perform roughly at par with their powerful yet more expensive counterparts. This year, Redmi has something new up their sleeve in the Redmi Note 10S.

A simple design choice in my eyes

The moment I received and unboxed the Redmi Note 10S, I said to myself, “huh, what’s new?” I mean, it comes in the usual packaging, with all the documentation, a jelly case, and the charger inside. If anything, though, the phone itself sports a simple exterior design, which doesn’t particularly stand out for a good reason.

This unit came in an Onyx Gray colorway plastered at the back, and I’m also aware that it comes in two other colors, as well. For me, this color makes it look rather professional and complements the simple design as a whole. Although, I noticed that the back of the phone likes fingerprints so much, and it’s quite obvious in this colorway.

Now, another great aspect of the exterior design was the placement of the phone’s speakers. For phones such as this, you’d expect that it’s just one speaker and it’s beside the charging port. In the case of the Redmi Note 10S, it comes with two speakers found on opposite ends. Honestly, I found it practical to set it up like this, that other smartphones should consider.

Complementing hardware and software

Let’s get to the beef of the matter, shall we? In terms of the internal hardware, the Redmi Note 10S is decent in that department. It comes with a MediaTek Helio G95 chipset, with my unit sporting 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. On the external hardware, the phone comes with a 6.43-inch FHD+ AMOLED display, mostly suitable for great detail and color accuracy. 

Redmi Note 10S

Upon my initial set up and usage, the phone responds quite well and quickly. Powered by MIUI 12.5, apps load smoothly and I even found myself multitasking some apps a lot more. Although, there were times that things like Dark Mode were wonky in some apps, but I think that’s mostly on MIUI.

Furthermore, the AMOLED display is pretty bright even at around 40-50 percent brightness. Even in this setting, it manages to display images and videos with great detail with minimal stuttering. Also, those speakers I mentioned earlier are quite loud and actually give off a sense of immersion when watching movies. It’s all good stuff for now, but let’s see if it holds up later on.

Redmi Note 10S

One look into the cameras for now

Apart from the hardware inside, I also wanted to focus on the cameras the Redmi Note 10S comes with. On its rear, you get an interesting quad-camera setup, with a 64MP lens as the star of the show. Along with this, you also get an 8MP wide-angle lens, a 2MP macro camera and depth sensor for that extra level of detail.

With some of the shots I initially took, I was fairly impressed with the image quality and color accuracy. From my view, it doesn’t look like there was any noticeable grain in the images, so that’s a good start. However, I ran into some trouble with the auto-focus mechanic in the camera. Hopefully, it will improve with prolonged use.

Redmi Note 10S

Up front, you only get a single 13MP lens lodged at the top of the display. For the most part, it did a good job of capturing selfies under great lighting conditions. 

A promising start, maybe?

So far, the Redmi Note 10S ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a great yet affordable smartphone. Inside and out, the phone allows you to do quite a lot and experience near-flagship features without sacrificing so much in the process. Whether or not this will hold up with longer and more drastic usage, you’ll just have to wait and see.

Redmi Note 10S

The Redmi Note 10S retails for PhP 11,990 and only comes with a configuration of 8GB RAM and128GB storage.

Buy it from Lazada.

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Hands-On

3 reasons why the Huawei Watch 3 deserves to be on your wrist

A must-have for those who live and breathe Huawei

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The Huawei Watch 3 has arrived in the Philippines and certainly on my wrist. This sleek-looking smartwatch is Huawei’s new flagship wearable — and there’s more to it than being a regular smartwatch wrapped around that space between your hand and forearm. Here are three reasons why you need to check this smartwatch out, and why it probably deserves to be worn by you.

Beautifully designed

Compared to its predecessors, the Huawei Watch 3 feels like a device that underwent a metamorphosis. A butterfly ready to spread its wings and bring wonders to the world.

The rounded case exudes a classic appeal; a semblance of watches from the recent and distant past. Unequivocally, Huawei kept it sleek with its circular finish. Those tiny details tell me the watch was studied carefully by designers and engineers, putting so much thought while keeping it simple and appealing.

It certainly won’t ruin your outfits in different situations such as casual date nights, quick errands, or sports, and other physical activities. For professional and formal settings though, you might need to invest in a strap that matches perfectly.

I’ve been using the black and plain fluoroelastomer strap, which is suitable for casual settings and active lifestyle, and also it’s the only one available at the moment in my country, but you can mix it with other straps depending on your region. Options include steel, nylon, and leather — and colors vary per style.

Apart from its stylish bearing, the Huawei Watch 3 is designed with features that make it worthy of being called a smartwatch. It sports a 1.43-inch AMOLED display, highlighting a vibrant and vivid display that makes the content visible even if you’re outdoors.

Also, there’s plenty of watch faces to choose from, and the user interface is designed simplistically to make navigation easier.

Top-notch connectivity

The Huawei Watch 3’s battery life averages three days when using the smart mode. Though, it can be extended up to 14 days when using the ultra-long battery life mode. This gives you plenty of time to stay connected without the need for your mobile phone. Dear, it’s time to let it rest comfortably inside your purse or leave it at home.

But how are you going to stay connected if it’s not connected to your phone?

If that is your question, fret not. Huawei equipped the watch with eSim technology, so you just need to go to your carrier and ask for an eSim QR that you can scan on your Huawei Health app, and voila, your smartwatch can use the same mobile number you use on your smartphone.

Now, it’s going to be easy for you to answer calls even when you’re out on a run, or when you’re heading elsewhere and you’re in a hurry. The Huawei Watch 3 runs on HarmonyOS, so the watch comes with pre-installed apps that you can enjoy seamlessly with your other Huawei devices.

There’s an AppGallery, in case you want to install more apps that suit your lifestyle. For music lovers, you can make the watch be your remote control and navigate your music playback. All can be done with a single flick on your wrist!

Your personal health manager

If you’re serious about maintaining an active lifestyle, the Huawei Watch 3 is a candidate as a companion. There’s a Skin Temperature detector that lets you know when your temperature is high. A must-have in this era, right?

It also has SpO2 monitoring, which allows you to track your blood oxygen saturation. Even your heart, Huawei’s TruSeen technology monitors your heart rate so you can be in control of your health, and so you can take care of yourself the way you need it to.

Personally, it felt like all-day health management and I have yet to dive more into it to see what else these features can do. But for now, I enjoy seeing records of my step count, periods of activity, stress levels, and the most important thing — sleep quality.

Other than the fitness trackers, the watch comes with 100+ workout modes with automatic exercise detection for common workouts. To be able to maximize this feature, Huawei’s health app is the way to go.

Can this be your GadgetMatch?

I believe it can, especially if you’re looking for an all-around watch that you can use. It ticks the right boxes: a classic appeal, plenty of straps to mix and match with your outfit, top-notch connectivity, and health management features that allow you to be in control.

The price might be too steep, but it’s a premium smartwatch for a reason. And it’s best used when you’re already enjoying Huawei’s ecosystem, and have plenty of devices that let you enjoy their seamless AI life.

The Huawei Watch 3 retails for PhP 18,999. It will be available on Huawei Store and authorized platforms such as Lazada and Shopee, as well as Huawei Experience stores and other retail partners.

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Hands-On

vivo V21 Series Hands-On

A pair of no-miss midrangers

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vivo V21

Light, slim and packed to the brim with specs and features that won’t leave you wanting. This is the vivo v21 series. Featuring the vivo v21 and the vivo V21e.

It’s a pair of midrangers equipped with specs to meet your smartphone needs. Take a look at their specs side-by-side:

vivo V21 vivo V21e
DISPLAY 6.44”, AMOLED, 90Hz, HDR10+ 6.44”, AMOLED, HDR10
PROCESSOR MediaTek Dimensity 800U 5G Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G
BATTERY 4,000 mAh 4,000 mAh
CAMERAS 64MP f/1.8 wide

8MP f/2.2 ultrawide

2MP f/2/4 macro

64MP f/1.9 wide

8MP f/2.2 ultrawide

2MP f/2/4 macro

As you can see, this pair is nearly identical with the only main differences being 5G connectivity, the processors, and the available colors. The vivo V21 comes in Dusk Blue, Sunset Dazzle, Arctic White. Meanwhile, the V21e comes in Diamond Flare, Roman Black.

Mobile photography

The vivo V21 series has a slew of photo and video taking pictures which we’ll discuss more in detail in another video. Because sometimes, we just want to snap away when we’re out and about.

The photos taken on auto mode already look pretty darn fine and ready for all your social media channels. As mentioned earlier, you can also play around with some of the features. Especially the portrait mode plus filters. One scene can look different with just a few taps and snaps.

Neat, right? Now, naturally you’re going to do a lot more with your phone than just take snazzy pics.

Both the Meditek Dimensity 800U 5G and Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipsets are very capable midrange processors. You can pretty much open all your most used apps at the same time, and not worry about the phones slowing down.

They’ll run smoothly whether you’re just browsing socials, writing emails, sending messages telling your friends to stream TWICE’s “Alcohol Free” music video.

Speaking of which, the video viewing experience on the vivo V21 series is also pretty darn good. The AMOLED displays are just a treat to the eyes. They’re great for getting lost in a YouTube rabbit hole or binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix!

Mobile gaming

Not into binge-watching? Why not try playing games?

Mobile gaming is all the rage these days. The games playable on smartphones keep getting better and prettier. Mobile Legends, PUBG, and Call of Duty Mobile are pretty popular titles. Then there’s also the massive hit Genshin Impact. All these games run smoothly on the vivo V21 series. Thanks to the processor and the 8GB + 3GB extended RAM feature.

You can be sure to focus on your gaming session with the Ultra Game Mode that lets you block notifications so nothing gets in the way of you winning your matches!

Naturally, after all of that browsing, watching, and playing, your phone will need to juice up. The 4000mAh fills up rather quickly thanks to its support for 33W fast charging. You can get up to 63 percent in just 30 minutes. Pretty darn quick!

The vivo V21 series is a no-miss pair of midrange smartphones.They feel great on your hands, are easy on the eyes, and performs just about as good as any midranger out there.

Best of all, you can prepare for the future with the vivo V21 5G or play it safe in 4G with the vivo V21e.

This pair of vivo Smartphones are available in vivo’s official stores as well online stores Shopee and Lazada.

  • vivo V21 5G – PhP 23,999 
  • vivo V21e – PhP 17,999

This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and vivo Philippines.

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